Home|About Jim|Archaeologist
Archaeologist 2016-12-05T22:23:21+00:00

As an archaeologist, Jim has worked on land and at sea, on sites thousands of years old and sites as recent as the beginning stages of the Cold War.

That has meant working around the world in dozens of countries, and yes, on the “Seven Seas” (plus a few other bodies of water). Looking back, Jim is reminded of how lucky he is, and how many great experiences, and wonderful opportunities have happened – as well as how many superb people he’s been privileged to work with and how many friends have entered his life thanks to countless surveys, excavations and lab work.

Jim is currently the Director of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program. Previously he was President and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and before that, Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Read more…

Recent Titles

Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War

Osprey Publishing, Limited, September 2009

Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls

Texas A&M University Press, March 2012.

Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare

Osprey Publishing, June 2011

Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada

Co-published by University of California Press and Douglas & McIntyre, April 2009

Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco’s Waterfront

University of California Press, March 2009

Identifying the Remains of the Whaler Candace

Since the 1970s, Jim has been involved in digs on buried Gold Rush-era ships in San Francisco – like Candace. Most of these projects have been with Jim’s good friend Allen Pastron’s firm Archeo-Tec, who pioneered these types of digs and who have literally exhumed and documented the early history of San Francisco. Over the course of this project Jim was able to employ some CSI-like archaeological detective work to come to a final conclusion about the ship’s identity. Learn More.

43 years and counting in the trenches


*USS Hatteras (1863), Gulf of Mexico. Survey and mapping of wreck site. Project in conjunction with BOEM, BSEE, Texas Historical Commission and Tesla Offshore. Chief Scientist, 2012.

*RMS Titanic (1912), North Atlantic. Survey and mapping of wreck site. Project in conjunction with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Premier Exhibitions, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the National Park Service. Principal Investigator/Chief Scientist, 2010-Present.

*Mary Celestia (1864), Somerset, Bermuda. Excavation of the interior of the bow of an American Civil War blockade runner. Co-principal Investigator, June 2011.

*Wreck of S.S. Beaver, Vancouver, 1991-1999. Survey and documentation of steamship wreck (1835-1887). Principal Investigator.

*Wreck of Schooner Vancouver, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, 1994. Survey and preliminary documentation of 1836 wreck of Hudson’s Bay Company trading vessel. Principal Investigator.

*Maritime collections, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1994-1995. Reanalysis/documentation of archaeological collections excavated at Fort Vancouver between 1948-1978 for maritime archaeological materials. Principal Investigator.

*Wreck of Maud, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 1996-1997. Survey and documentation of Arctic exploration vessel (1918-1931). Principal Investigator.

*Wreck of Sidewheel Steamship Great Republic (1867) mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, 1997 to present. Ongoing survey and documentation of a portion of an 1879 steamship wreck initially thought to be Isabella, an 1830 wreck of Hudson’s Bay Company supply vessel.

*Wreck of HMS Terror, King William Island vicinity, Nunavut, Canada, 2000. A search for Captain Sir John Franklin’s exploration ship, HMS Terror (1845-1848), 2000.

*Wreck of RMS Titanic (1912). Archaeological reconnaissance dive in submersible Mir 2, 2000.

*Wreck of RMS Carpathia (1918) Celtic Sea, off Ireland. Survey and identification of the wreck of the ship that rescued Titanic’s survivors, 2000.

*Wreck of Mary Celeste (1885) Rochelois Reef, Haiti. Survey and identification and ongoing analysis of artefacts from a merchant ship previously found abandoned at sea in 1872 in a case that remains a notorious maritime mystery, 2000-2002.

*Wreck of L-26, near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada. Survey and identification of British 1920’s submarine scuttled after World War II, 2001.

*Wreck of HMCS Clayaquot (1944), near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Survey and identification of Canadian minesweeper sunk by a German U-Boat, 2001.

*Wreck of US Collier Merrimac (1898), Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Survey and identification of first warship sunk during the Spanish-American War, 2003.

*Wreck of Fox (1912) at Qequertarsuag, Greenland. Survey of 1855 steamship used in Arctic exploration and as an Arctic trade vessel. Principal investigator, 2003.

*Wreck of Mongol (Ghenko) Fleet Vessel (1281), Takashima, Japan. Consultation on excavation of Chinese-built warship lost during Mongol invasion of Japan, 2002.

*Sub Marine Explorer (1865), Isla San Telmo, Panama. Survey and identification of American Civil War submarine. Principal Investigator, 2001-2006.

*Juno Beach (1944), Normandy, France. Survey of Canadian beach and offshore waters from the D-Day landings of June 1944. Principal Investigator, 2004.

*Monitor Russalka (1867), Baltic Ocean between Tallinn, Estonia and Helsinki, Finland. Consultation and survey of Russian Navy double-turreted monitor lost in 1893 with all hands, 2005.

*Gallipoli (Cannakale) Turkey (1914-1915) Reconnaissance survey of wrecks of HMS Goliath and HMSTriumph from naval battles off Gallipoli Peninsula.

*Field survey, excavation, preparation of research designs and project reports, including work as principal investigator.

*Sutro Heights, San Francisco, 1979-1980. Excavation and documentation of 1886-1939 residential complex and ornamental gardens. Co-Principal Investigator.

*Shipwreck of S.S. Tennessee, Marin County, 1979-1981. Remote sensing survey, excavation of 1853 steamship wreck and associated material culture. Co-Principal Investigator.

*Shipwreck of S.S. Winfield Scott, Anacapa Island, 1981-1983. Survey and documentation of 1853 steamship wreck. Co-Principal Investigator.

*Shipwreck Survey, Point Reyes National Seashore, 1981-1983. Remote sensing survey, test excavation, documentation of exposed remains of several historic 19th and 20th century shipwrecks in Drakes Bay.

*Shipwreck of King Philip, San Francisco, 1981-1984. Remote sensing survey, test excavation, documentation of exposed remains of 1878 medium clipper wreck on Ocean Beach. Principal Investigator.

*Shipwreck of Neptune, San Francisco, 1982. Documentation of early 20th century wreck on Ocean Beach.  Principal Investigator.

*Shipwreck Survey for C.W. Lawrence, San Francisco, 1983. Remote sensing survey for 1851 wreck of U.S. Revenue Cutter. Co-Principal Investigator.

*Black Point Battery, San Francisco, 1983-1985. Excavation and documentation of 1863 temporary harbour defence fortification. Co-Principal Investigator.

*Shipwreck Survey, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 1985-1986. Field survey and documentation of hurricane exposed shipwreck remains on 60-mile linear beach area. Principal Investigator.

*USS Monitor Project, 1986-1988. Project Historian.

*Shipwreck Survey, Cape Cod National Seashore, 1986. Field survey and documentation of various 19th and 20th century wrecks.

*Wreck of Brig Isabella, mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, 1986. Preliminary survey and documentation of 1830 wreck of Hudson’s Bay Company supply vessel.

*Matthew Turner/James Robertson Shipyard, Benicia, California, 1987. Survey and documentation of 1887-1918 shipyard site, test excavation and documentation of ex-whaler Stamboul (1841-1916) at site. Principal investigator.

*Sub Marine Explorer (1865), Isla San Telmo, Panama. Survey and identification of American Civil War submarine. Principal Investigator, 2006 to 2010.

*HMS Volage (1946) Bay of Sarande, Albania. Survey of bow of British destroyer blown off during Corfu Channel Incident. Project in conjunction with the RPM Nautical Foundation and INA. 2009-Present.

*Historical and archaeological consultantation, field excavation and analysis.

*Hoff’s Store, San Francisco, 1986-1987. Excavation and analysis of two collapsed, burned commercial and retail buildings (1851) on the former waterfront.

*101 Mission Street, San Francisco, 1987. Excavation and analysis of residential site (1849-1853).

*Rincon Annex, San Francisco, 1987. Excavation and analysis of sailor boarding house site (1887-1906) on waterfront.

*Shipwreck of Bark LaGrange, Sacramento, 1986-1987. Documentation and analysis of Gold Rush vessel and prison hulk (1836-1863).

*Charles Hare Yard, San Francisco, 1987-1988. Excavation and analysis of shipbreaking yard and associated vessel debris (1851-1857).

*Storeship General Harrison, San Francisco, 2001-2005. Excavation and analysis of 1840 ship converted to a warehouse and burned in 1851.

*Remains of the 1818 ship Candace, San Francisco, 2006. Analysis and identification of 1818 whaler partially dismantled at Charles Hare Yard.

*Field survey, excavation and preparation of Environmental Impact Reports in Santa Clara County, California.  Project experience included prehistoric sites ranging from the Middle Horizon (3,000 B.P.) to Late Horizon (1,000-250 B.P.) and historical sites, notably the Luis Maria Peralta adobe (1791).